Secretary-Treasurer Carolyn Beaulieu attended the National Congress of American Indians midyear conference at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut June 12-15. Carolyn is the Midwest Region Vice President Alternate on the NCAI Executive Committee.
The theme of the conference was “Sovereign Infrastructure: Building Our Communities through Our Values.” On Tuesday, June 13, Carolyn was a presenter on a panel titled “Building Tribal-State Relationships to Advance Critical Tribal Priorities.” Also on the panel were Minnesota House Representatives Peggy Flanagan and Susan Allen.
The program described the panel as follows: “In this fluid political environment, forging strong and sustainable tribal-state relationships that strengthen tribal sovereignty and advance tribal priorities is more important than ever. This collaborative session between NCAI and the National Caucus of Native American State Legislators (NCNASL) will tackle critical and timely issues requiring informed, tactical advocacy with state governments and their elected leadership, from budget and appropriations issues to preserving Medicaid expansion to implementing the Indian Child Welfare Act regulations. Tribal leaders and NCNASL representatives also will discuss how to advance pro-tribal policies at the state level through sustained relationship building and maintenance.”
The first day of the conference was dedicated to task force meetings on drug and violence prevention, federal recognition, land issues, food and infrastructure, crime reduction, national monuments, economic development, and protection of indigenous traditional knowledge and culture.
On Tuesday morning the First General Assembly opened with a Call to Order by NCAI President Brian Cladoosby, followed by Presentation of the Colors and an invocation by Lynn Malerba, Chief of the Mohegan Tribe, and a welcome by Kevin Brown, Chairman of the Mohegan Tribe. Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy and Senator Chris Murphy also welcomed attendees, and Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke gave an administration update.
NCAI Executive Director Jacqueline Pata spoke that morning on the Tribal Policy Agenda: Opportunities vs. Challenges.
Afternoon breakout sessions focused on topics like juvenile justice, tribal sovereignty, the federal trust responsibility, mental health and Indian education. The day closed with sub- committee meetings.
Wednesday, June 14, began with a Sunrise Ceremony followed by Regional Caucus Meetings and a youth gathering. The Second General Assembly featured a Tribal Leader/Scholar Fo- rum titled “A Research Response to the Federal Policy Agenda: Navigating Infrastructure, Tax, and Health Care Reforms.”
At the closing General Assembly on June 15, tribal leaders adopted a resolution supporting the Paris Climate Agreement.
“As the indigenous people of this land, it is our sacred obligation to mother earth to respect and protect her,” said NCAI President Brian Cladoosby. “Our communities are on the front lines of climate change and are facing relocation in some areas, and the loss of hunting and fishing ecosystems and traditional plants and medicines in others.”
Indigenous peoples in the United States and around the world depend on the health of their ecosystems and natural resources for social, economic, and cultural vitality. Climate change threatens to destroy indigenous ways of life that have been sustained for thousands of years.
Resolution MOH-17-053: “Continued Support for the Paris Climate Agreement and Action to Address Climate Change” was adopted unanimously today by NCAI Membership. MOH-17-053 commits to supporting and advocating for initiatives that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote climate resiliency, and calls on all tribal Nations to uphold the Paris Agreement.
At the end of 2015, representatives from NCAI and many tribal nations participated in negotiations with the parties to the United Nations Framework on Convention on Climate Change in Paris. Reaching a universally binding agreement to address cli- mate change, the agreement represented a global step forward.
“The Paris Climate Agreement is an important step toward a better future for our seven generations to come,” said NCAI President Brian Cladoosby. “Indigenous knowledge is a proven tool in addressing climate change and our tribal leaders represented today are committed to sharing that knowledge as leaders in the global effort to address climate change.”
The Paris Climate Agreement resolution was one of 36 resolutions passed by the NCAI Membership at the Mid Year Conference. Text of the resolutions is available on the NCAI web- site at ncai.org/resources/resolutions-home.